Council questions safety of water from Two Harbors-area tank

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Breaking news: Southern California Edison officials have decided against shipping water from the Million Gallon Tank in Two Harbors to the Wrigley Reservoir that serves Avalon until a city-employed consultant has tested the water. Southern California Edison sent the information to the Catalina Islander for the information to be included in the print edition of this story. 

 

Breaking news: Southern California Edison officials have decided against shipping water from the Million Gallon Tank in Two Harbors to the Wrigley Reservoir that serves Avalon until a city-employed consultant has tested the water. Southern California Edison sent the information to the Catalina Islander for the information to be included in the print edition of this story. 

 

Southern California Edison wants to relocate water from a tank in Two Harbors to the Avalon water supply. City officials doubt the water is safe to drink.

“I think we still need to do our own testing,” said Councilman Joe Sampson. “I can’t guarantee the public I represent that the water is safe until we finish our testing.  I’m going to still tell them not to drink the water. I don’t want any water delivered from the Million Gallon Tank to the homes of Avalon people until the testing is done. I can’t say in my heart that people should be drinking that water.”

Sample results show insignificant traces of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminants in the water currently sitting in the so-called Million Gallon Tank in Two Harbors, according to Southern California Edison. A company reprsentative presented the test results to the City Council this week.

The utility company’s sample results received a huge amount of backlash from the council and the community during its meeting on Tuesday, March 3.

The reason for the sample results presentation came about when Avalon’s City Council was notified on Feb. 17 by Edison that they were going to begin draining the tank and moving the water to the Wrigley Reservoir, which is a direct drinking water resource for Avalon.

At the February meeting, Councilman Joe Sampson voiced opposition and demanded that Edison provide scientific evidence proving that the water from the tank was safe for consumption.

Sampson also called for Avalon to conduct its own independent study prior to Edison continuing with its project.

The council approved its own independent sampling and testing of the water in the tank but City Attorney Scott Campbell made it clear that Avalon had no jurisdiction over stopping Southern California Edison from continuing its ongoing project.

The only way to stop Southern California Edison is through a court order, said Campbell.

The council has not hired a specific company to test the waterCampbell said he had three companies lined up that could do the work.

This week, the Edison Company brought hydrologist Andrew Barnes and Edison’s region manager for Metro East, Tony Edison to the meeting to answer the council’s concerns.

Barnes assured the council that the appropriate sampling and testing had been done and that PCB contaminant levels were far below federal and state mandated maximum contaminant levels if present at all.

PCBs have the potential, if consumed in large amounts over long periods of time, to “cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system,” according to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

“Personally, I’ve been through the process. I’ve seen the results first hand and I have no problem drinking the water,” said Barnes. “The results give me great comfort.”

Barnes is affiliated with a third-party company called Geosyntec, which was brought in to test the consumption safety level before Edison Company moved the water to the Wrigley Reservoir.

Edison held meetings in Two Harbors, where the tank is located, prior to the draining of the tank.

The City of Avalon’s exclusion from those meetings, intentional or not, is where the problem with the project initiated and rumors about the contamination of the tank’s water added to the controversy.

“Just the fact that we were left out of the loop that puts up big caution signs for us,” said Councilman Sampson. “What we’re asking for is transparency and forthright honesty, and we want to be informed of water allocation and water transfers. This whole problem is from that we weren’t notified.”

Tony Edison said that an invitation to the City of Avalon to the meetings in Two Harbors was overlooked and that it should have been given.

“We missed an opportunity to come in front of the folks in the City of Avalon to discuss why we’re moving water from one location, where there have been concerns raised around the quality of that water, into the Avalon water supply,” said Tony Edison.

The reason for the water transfer is because Edison Company wants to refurbish the Million Gallon Tank.

“The tank is in need of repair,” said Tony Edison. “Nothing lasts forever.”

Thursday afternoon, Garcia sent the following to the Catalina Islander:

 

"Southern California Edison (SCE) is working to address the Million Gallon Tank water concerns of the city of Avalon and the county of Los Angeles.
 
After the Avalon City Council meeting, SCE decided not to transfer water from the Million Gallon Tank to the Wrigley Reservoir until after the city’s consultant gets test results showing the water doesn’t contain PCBs and is safe to drink. SCE’s consultant, Geosyntec, has been doing monthly sampling of the drinking water leaving the tank for about a year, and all of the results show “non-detect” for PCBs. The water is safe to drink.
 
Some water trucking operations will continue on the island, as they are a routine and necessary component of the overall water system operation and critical to ensuring that water is available at certain remote locations on the island. No water will be trucked from the Million Gallon Tank."

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